We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Ryon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erika, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’m sure I’m not the first to say that starting your own business is one of the scariest embarkments…but it was and has been the MOST REWARDING decision I’ve ever made. I am a single parent and everything I was doing (up to the point of starting my business) just didn’t make sense. I was trying to find my place in corporate America. I was in Nursing School and being a mother to two children…extremely exhausted. I thought it was what I wanted to do, so I worked my ass off to get accepted into this program, and when I was finally there…it didn’t make sense.
I kept thinking in my mind…”Why am I doing this? What am I doing this for if I’m not fulfilled spiritually, mentally, and emotionally?”
I had been offering dreadlock services locally for a while and it was the one constant that I actually loved and enjoyed. The connections I made with my people, the work I was doing, and the true happiness I felt doing it….it just made sense to finally just do what I loved. When Covid hit…it put me at this fork in the road…I was either going to continue with what I was doing (and hated), or I was going to finally start doing something that I loved. I could work work work…or I could work by doing something I actually loved AND finally have the time I longed for to spend with my children.
Someone really amazing said something to me when I was trying to figure out which direction to go. He said something along the lines of “Most people spend their entire lives trying to get to the starting line, just to find themselves wishing they would have just taken a chance…do you want to be the one looking back wishing the same thing?”
That was that moment for me. So I began taking the risks…slowly, but eventually more often. And here I am now.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am a Dread Loctician that services the Front Range region. I am based out of Colorado Springs and Denver, and help people on their loc journey’s. Whether that be starting their journey, maintaining their locs, or helping them with issues they may be having, I get to help people at whatever part of their journey they are on. It’s not just about their locs, but about connecting them. My path is a spiritual one. I absolutely believe in the power of connection and the transformation that takes place during their Loc journey. I never really understood my purpose, I just knew that I wanted to connect with all humans and shed some kind of light in SOME WAY, even if it was a brief moment in time on their path. Perspective is everything, and I feel like a lot of division comes from lack of perspective, conversation, and openness. In my line of work, I get to connect with so many walks of life and dive into so many different perspectives and then also share mine. It’s a beautiful thing.
What gets me so excited about what I do is the bond that’s built when someone sits in my chair. Whether it’s a new client, or someone that I see regularly, I love the conversation and the stories that we get to share…the experiences, the updates on life, the questions asked for perspective…it’s all so beautiful. My chair is an open space, where everyone is welcome and accepted, and everyone’s journey is special.
I like to think that what sets me apart from a lot of people is that it’s not just another appointment…it’s a moment in time where nothing else in the world matters. You come sit in my chair, and I help you with whatever you need with your locs, and we get to: vibe, connect, and share.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered along the way is that there are hard conversations around the topic of locs (dreads, dreadlocks, locs, etc). There are a lot of stigmas, prejudices, and some strong divisions. There are even judgments made towards the “dreadheaded” community as well. But they are conversations that need to be had. Like I stated before, I think conversation is necessary in order to defeat division. Perspective is so important and having the ability to listen to and understand all sides is so necessary.
It doesn’t matter if you think you are right or wrong, what you think history says, etc… what matters is whether you care to understand someone else’s perspective. Division occurs because people fail to talk, fail to ask questions, fail to listen…I learned this during my dread journey…my eyes were opened as I started my journey. I awoke the lioness within me and finally understood that just like myself, people just want to be heard. I started my journey roughly 5 years ago, and it was at a pivotal moment in my life. I wanted to step out of this shell I had been hiding in my entire life and finally just embrace myself and my true human…I wanted to be heard.
So as a dreadlock artist, I want my clients to be heard. I want them to have a safe space to always come to, that they can always trust. I want them to walk in and know that when they come to me, it’s a place for them to be who they are…nothing less and nothing more, just them. No matter who they are or where they are in their life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a lover of all things music, art, and food. Without those three things, the world would cease to exist for me. Denver is continuously growing. Red Rocks is the place to experience some of the best music performances you’ll ever see, and it’s in our backyard.
We have some of the coolest venues in Denver for musical performances for all genres and subgenres. Some of my personal favorites to hit up are: Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, Bluebird Theatre, and Mission Ballroom. But when I want to get into the nitty gritty and hear some of the best drum and bass or Break-beats, the Blackbox it is.
Denver is full of some amazing eats. My go-to for guests from out of town is Cholon down-town, because of it’s Asian infused European dishes. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever eat and triggers a bit of excitement on every single tastebud. You just can’t wait to try the next dish. So eat at Cholon if you haven’t and make sure to do it “family style:” share with your entire table and try a bunch of different dishes together. You won’t be disappointed.
The Denver Museum is one of my favorite spots as well. The exhibits that run through that place never disappoint.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My success would not be anything without my tribe and team cheering me on. I have a handful of lionesses that have helped me on this path, you know who you are (cough: Sharyn, Amber, Kaila, and my birdies in the “nest”). When times are tough, your tribe is what helps keep you together. But Shoutout to my best friend Jenni for being the push, my partner Tim for being the constant nudge, and for the queen Paige for taking a chance with me when I was solo. My children were and ARE what continue to motivate me. Without them I wouldn’t be sharing my sharing my story. I want them both to grow into strong humans that do what they love with absolute PASSION…and I want to be that example for them.
Tim Morrissey and self